Named after the famed racing driver Ayrton Senna who ruled the racetracks during the mid-eighties to early nineties, the McLaren Senna aims to rewrite the history books with sheer levels of performance and capability and is one of the purest driving cars the English manufacturer has ever put into production. McLaren claims that the Senna is the most track-focused car they've ever produced. What this means is a ton of race-inspired engineering has gone into this car, and the numbers do most of the talking: with a curb weight of only 2,897 pounds, the Senna is the lightest vehicle McLaren has built since the legendary F1. Based on the McLaren 720S, it packs a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 developing 789 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. At speed, the Senna creates close to a ton of downforce and will reach a top speed of 208 mph. This then is no speed-chasing hypercar, but a true track weapon with the go to match, and rivals the likes of the Ford GT.
McLaren's track-oriented Ultimate Series model is based around the second-generation carbon monocoque chassis and is powered by the latest generation 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The Senna was joined by the Senna GTR and limited-run LM models at the turn of the decade, a dedicated track car that won't see public roads. The Senna eschews a sense of style for a focus on downforce, and while street legal, it's been designed and engineered to live on the track.
For the 2020 model year, McLaren released the Senna GTR, a track-only version of the Senna with optimized aerodynamics, revised suspension, and a dual-clutch race transmission. Only 75 units were planned. McLaren also released an extremely limited-run Senna LM, of which only 20 cars were to be built, with five earmarked for the US market. It's been 25 years since the McLaren F1 GTR won the 1995 24 Hour of Le Mans endurance race and the LM was built to celebrate it. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine has been tweaked even further to increase power to 814 hp in the LM. Weight has been reduced and aerodynamics optimized. Finally, McLaren also applied the LM treatment to the track-only Senna GTR - there will be five units built of the GTR LM, and two were sold to US customers. Each of these five cars will be decked out in a bespoke livery inspired by each of the five F1 GTRs that finished that 1995 race.
The Senna remains essentially unchanged for 2019, with each car sold being customized to the buyer's requirements.
The 2018 McLaren Senna launches as a brand-new addition to the automaker's Ultimate Series and pays homage to Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna, with whom McLaren won four consecutive F1 World Constructors Championship titles. It's conceived as a lightweight track-focused hypercar that chases the lowest lap times. Thanks to McLaren's MonoCage III carbon-fiber monocoque and extensive use of the composite throughout the vehicle, its curb weight is under 2,900 lbs, and its claimed dry weight is only 2,641 lbs.
Cars such as the McLaren Senna, which are designed to be used on the track, tend to forgo niceties such as massaging seats and high-end sound systems in favor of weight saving and peak performance. That theme runs throughout the $1,050,000 Senna. Under the engine cover lies a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces an astonishing 789 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, tweaked to 814 hp in the LM. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The exterior of the Senna features LED headlights and a set of 19-inch front and 20 inch rear wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires. The interior offers a three-spoke steering wheel devoid of controls, a floating infotainment screen, a keyless entry and start system, and even a small parcel shelf behind the seats. Optional extras include a six-point seatbelt harness and a seven-speaker Bower & Wilkins sound system.
The McLaren Senna is named after famed three-times Formula One champion Ayrton Senna, which should explain a big part of this McLaren’s nature. The Senna is a road car built for the track, and besides a few creature comforts, this car is a full-blown racing machine. Powered by the most powerful gas engine ever fitted to a road-legal McLaren, the 789-hp Senna will accelerate to sixty in 2.7-seconds and continue on to a top speed of 208 mph. The exterior features a titanium exhaust system, as well as LED headlights, while the interior offers an optional seven-speaker Bower & Wilkins sound system.
The McLaren Special Operations-made McLaren Senna LM will be limited to 20 units worldwide, of which only five will reach the US. It pays homage to the McLaren F1 LM and borrows several components from the Senna GTR, essentially turning it into a road-legal GTR. The engine has been further optimized to produce 25 hp more than the normal Senna, the body has been aerodynamically refined, and the only livery available will be McLaren Orange paintwork with LM badging. Other notable features include 24K gold heat shielding, titanium nitrate foot pedals, center-lock racing aluminum wheels, vented front fenders, and satin-gold-finished quad exhaust outlets. Its dry weight is 2,619 pounds.
The McLaren Senna looks as gorgeous as the rest of the McLaren lineup but is visually more aggressive than any of its lower-ranking constituents. It is clear that McLaren follows a function-over-form design style here: the aerodynamic features are insane, with every corner of this car featuring a scoop or wing. The Senna rolls on a set of Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, which are barely legal for road use. The Senna LM features various styling and aerodynamic enhancements and can easily be distinguished by its McLaren Orange paintwork, fender vents, center-lock racing wheels, gold-finished exhaust outlets, the lack of the normal Senna's clear panels in the doors, and LM branding. It's unlikely that you'll ever see one of the five Senna GTR LMs to be built, especially since only two of them were sold to US customers. Each of the five cars are finished in the livery of each of the five G1 GTRs that finished the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The Ueno Clinic car is charcoal gray, the Harrods car is Solar Yellow, the Gulf car is blue and orange, the Jacadi car is royal blue, and the Cesar car is covered in intricate artwork. They all have satin-gold brake calipers and center-lock five-spoke OZ racing wheels.
The dimensions of the McLaren Senna have been calculated for maximum performance instead of looks, but McLaren still manages to blend the two for a finished product that looks as good as it goes. When it comes to the dimensions of the Senna, the two keywords here are low and broad. The Senna measures 186.8 inches in length, is 47 inches tall, and 84.8 inches wide, weighing in at 2,897 lbs. The dry weight of the LM is as low as 2,619 lbs.
At the heart of the McLaren Senna lies an updated 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, which is the most powerful road-car engine ever produced by the British manufacturer. The Senna makes use of a dry-sump oil pan and a flat-plane crankshaft, as well as lightweight connecting rods and pistons, to help keep weight down and improve engine efficiency. The end result is a car that produces 789 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Low inertia twin-scroll turbos almost eliminate turbo lag, and performance is astounding from launch all the way to the top end, with torque coming in wave after wave with every flick of the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The zero to sixty sprint is completed in under three seconds, and the Senna tops out at 208 mph. The LM has more power - 814 hp - thanks to fine-tuning and hand-finishing the cylinder heads, resulting in an even higher top speed of 211 mph. The GTR LM has yet another 19 hp for a total of 833 hp and the engine can rev to 9,000 rpm.
Being a race car for the road means that there is little importance placed on passenger comfort: the Senna makes you feel every bump and ridge in the road, which is great for dynamic driving, but not so much for a quick Sunday stroll. The Senna's race mode drops the ride height by 1.5 inches in the front, and 1.2 inches in the rear, and switches the dampers into hardcore mode. Cornering is monumental, and the Senna offers nothing short of racecar performance, with the only element holding it back being the tires. Bringing everything to a halt is a set of high-performance brakes that will stop the Senna from 124 mph in only 328 feet. The LM and GTR LM models should be even more hardcore in their responses and manic track ability, which anyone who's been lucky enough to try out would be able to attest to. The GTR LM especially, should be an epic experience with its 9,000-rpm rev limit.
At this level, gas mileage figures fade into the background, and unless you're planning how many laps you can get on a certain amount of fuel, the Senna's thirsty drinking habit shouldn't matter much to those lucky enough to own one. The EPA-estimated fuel consumption is 14/18/16 mpg for the city/highway/combined cycles, with the Ford GT managing only 12/18/14 mpg on the same cycles.
Getting in and out of the McLaren Senna means flipping up a set of dihedral doors that look really cool, but can be tricky to close for the uninformed. Once inside the Senna, two very lucky occupants will find that there's enough space to accommodate two average-sized adults with ease, but larger passengers will feel cramped. The seats offer race-car levels of support. The LM's titanium nitride foot pedals, orange highlights, and LM branding is easy to spot. The GTR LM is differentiated by gold-anodized gearshift paddles, carbon-fiber racing seats with GTR LM embroidery on the headrests, a six-point racing harness with pads in body color, titanium nitride pedals with the LM logo, and leather door-pull straps.
There is no trunk space to speak of in the McLaren Senna. What you do get is a small storage shelf behind the seats that is large enough to store a set of racing helmets or enough Burger King for a pit crew of four. If you really need to cart around stuff, then your best bet will be the passenger seat.
When it comes to features, the Senna forgoes the traditional in favor of track-derived equipment. The exterior features a lightweight Inconel and titanium exhaust system, as well as LED headlights and lightweight alloy wheels. The interior features electronic door releases, keyless ignition, as well as storage space for two racing helmets. Optional features include six-point racing harnesses, and an MSO powered drink system that reminds the driver to top up on personal fluids while on track.
One of the main interior attractions is the floating infotainment display that brings a touch of civility to an otherwise stripped interior. The screen offers crisp images and features three control knobs at the bottom of the screen. For those more interested in the sounds of
ABBA than that V8 engine in the back, McLaren offers a seven-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system, and for the hardcore racers, a McLaren Track Telemetry system.
The Senna, along with a number of other McLaren supercars, has been recalled due to a faulty gas tank; a foam pad placed beneath the tank can absorb water and other debris, which can lead to the deterioration of the tank, and possible fuel leaks. In addition, the Senna was also recalled for a problem where the engine's wiring harness may sustain damage from chafing, which might cause a stall. McLaren does not offer complimentary maintenance visits, and owners get a limited powertrain warranty.
The ultra-exotic McLaren Senna never has, and likely never will be tested by either the NHTSA or IIHS, so official crash test results are not available. Anywhere. What we can tell you is that the Senna has been constructed with racing in mind, so you get all the safety elements of a race car besides a full roll cage. The Senna gets a standard backup camera with front and rear parking sensors, airbags, as well as an advanced traction and stability program, LED headlights, and high-performance brakes.
The Senna is the perfect example of a brand pushing its cars as close to the racetrack as possible without slapping a number to the door and bedazzling it with sponsor stickers. Yes, the Senna is able to drive on the road, but its suspension setup and defining road and tire noise make it impractical for everyday use, and the fact that it doesn't have any storage space makes things even worse. It is on the track that things start to make sense. With mountains of power on tap, and a body designed to create nearly a ton of downforce at speed, the Senna is an absolute animal on track and is much more dynamically pleasing to drive than its comparatively cumbersome rival, the Bugatti Chiron. Perhaps the fact that the LM and GTR LM are even rarer than the Chiron, yet more affordable, is the cherry on the top.
When compared to the insanely fast Bugatti Chiron, the McLaren Senna looks like the bargain of the year. McLaren asks $1,050,000 for the right to get behind the wheel of a Senna, which is about a third of the price of a Bugatti Chiron. The US Ford GT Coupe costs half as much as the McLaren at $500,000. The LM is even more expensive at upwards of $1.4 million, while the GTR LM's price has not been disclosed - although it should be significantly more expensive due to its extreme rarity and bespoke finishes for each example.
You'll have to decide what you want out of your Senna experience: if you want to throw it around the track, but also be able to drive it home, then the standard Senna should do just fine. If you're going to be driving this thing more than once a month, we'd recommend getting the optional sound system. For those who are in it purely for the performance, why not get a 570S for the road, and get the Senna GTR for dedicated track days.
The Ford GT might not be in the same league in terms of power outputs, handling, or engineering technology, but it does like being compared to the Senna on the internet. The Ford GT is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that produces 660 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The GT is by far the more comfortable and practical car and looks pretty good too, but on the track, it will only see the back-end of the Senna.
The Bugatti Chiron range of cars is the pinnacle in Bugatti design and engineering and places a major focus on top speed, instead of on track ability. Powered by a massive 8.0-liter quad-turbocharged W16 engine, the Chiron produces a serious 1,479 hp, which it sends to all four wheels via a seven-speed DSG transmission. On the road, the Chiron is much more comfortable and has a more luxury-orientated interior. Around the corners, the Chiron will be left in the dust but put it up against the Senna on a long stretch of open road, and the Chiron's party trick becomes very obvious. Pick your poison.
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